Observation impact analysis methods for storm surge forecasting systems

Martin Verlaan, JH Sumihar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a simple method for estimating the impact of assimilating individual or group of observations on forecast accuracy improvement. This method is derived from the nsemble-based observation impact analysis method of Liu and Kalnay (Q J R Meteorol Soc 134:1327–1335, 2008). The method described here is different in two ways from their method. Firstly, it uses a quadratic function of model-minus-observation residuals as a measure of forecast accuracy, instead of model-minus-analysis. Secondly, it simply makes use of time series of observations and the corresponding model output generated without data assimilation. These time series are usually available in an operational database. Hence, it is simple to implement. It can be used before any data assimilation is implemented. Therefore, it is useful as a design tool of a data assimilation system, namely for selecting which observations to assimilate. The method can also be used as a diagnostic tool, for example, to assess if all observation contributes positively to the accuracy improvement. The method is applicable for systems with stationary error process and fixed observing network. Using twin experiments with a simple one-dimensional advection model, the method is shown to work perfectly in an idealized situation. The method is used to evaluate the observation impact in the operational storm surge forecasting system based on the Dutch Continental Shelf Model version 5 (DCSMv5).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-241
Number of pages20
JournalOcean Dynamics: theoretical, computational oceanography and monitoring
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Data assimilation
  • Ensemble forecast sensitivity to observation
  • Observation impact


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